L.A. Jewish Film Festival – Brit Week at the Wallace

The L.A. Jewish Film Festival celebrated their 13th year with a Gala Opening Night celebration at the Ahrya Fine Arts theatre with the documentary “Sammy Davis Jr. I’ve Gotta Be Me”. Many of the late performer’s pals were in attendance including George Schlatter (creator of “Laugh Inn”, comedian Tom Dresen and  Sammy’s son, Manny Davis. They participated in a panel discussion following the screening of this new documentary, which illustrated Sammy’s great talent — but also showed the many obstacles he encountered as a black entertainer. Do you know that when he was a child, performing with his Uncle (Will Mastin Trio), they were not allowed to stay in the hotels where they performed? Sammy was a pioneer in the civil rights movement, even though many of his race shunned him because of his marriage to Mai Britt, a blonde, blue-eyed Swedish beauty.

Ioan Gruffudd & Joely Fisher – Hosts of Brit Week at The Wallace (Photo credit: Brian Lohmann)

Rabbi Jerry Cutler was a friend of his (after all, Sammy did convert to Judaism) & he spoke lovingly of him; as well as Moderator, Stan Taffel, Hollywood Historian. I knew Sammy quite well, and can attest to the fact he was an extraordinary gentleman, in every sense of the word. A one-of-a-kind talent never to be forgotten. Kudos to Producer Hillary Helstein for the Bar Mitzvah that Sammy never had!

George Schlatter, Hillary Helstein, Rabbi Jerry Cutler (Photo credit: Todd Felderstein)

We celebrated Brit Week at the Wallis Theatre with A Shakespeare Jubilee.  This star-studded event, directed by Louis Fantasia was co-hosted by actors Ion Gruffudd & Joely Fisher, and a cast of 34 actors performing scenes from the Bard’s best plays. Among the British & Hollywood actors were Soap Star, Eric Braden, Harry Hamlin, Finola Hughes, Joe Spano, & Joan Van Ark. We loved the scene from Midsummer Night’s Dream with Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance) portrayed a donkey! Also loved handsome Harry Hamlin’s portrayal as Hamlet. And to top it all off — there was an interlude of Songs for Shakespeare, by John Dankeworth & Cleo Lane — performed by Sherry Williams. As Shakespeare himself stated: “All the world’s a stage. Blow thou Winter Wind Melody”. “Fear no more the heat of the sun. If Music be the Food of Love.”

Poster – Sammy Davis, Jr.

As a television personality, guest speaker, newspaper reporter and columnist and one of the social arbiters of Los Angeles, Marci Weiner has touched every aspect of entertainment journalism. She has appeared as guest reporter on TV shows including Joan Rivers shows, Eye on LA, and the USA Network. In addition, she has hosted her own segments on Soap Talk, Hollywood Style and Hotline after Dark. You may contact Marci for info and invitations at [email protected]